In 2019, Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $430 million contract. This is on the heels of Bryce Harper signing a 13-year, $330 million contract. There have been several 10-year contracts signed by baseball players.

The longest contracts in the NBA during the 2018-2019 season are 5-6 years in length. The longest contracts in the NBA during the 2000s were 7 years in length.

Are 10+ year contracts discouraged or prohibited in the NBA? If discouraged, why?

1 Answer 1


As always, you want the fantastic CBA FAQ, in this case, Question 53 "Is there a limit to the length of a contract?":

The maximum years and raises depend on the type of contract, however the "standard" maximum length is four seasons [...] The following are exceptions to the standard:

[ ...a number of exceptions, but the longest is: ]

Extensions (Designated Veterans) 6 [years]

"Why?" is a more complicated question. The maximum contract length was introduced in order to prevent teams crippling their teams for multiple years by being tied into a high-priced contract with a veteran who is years past their prime - see e.g. Rick DiPietro for what happens if this kind of restriction doesn't exist.

While the contract length restriction has accomplished that aim, it's also had the effect of moving a lot of power to the players as teams can't lock up their legitimate superstars for long contracts - see in particular LeBron James's multiple moves, and Kevin Durant's move to the Warriors (and his potential leaving).

  • 1
    Part of limiting contract length may also come from salary caps. Allowing a 20 year contract when a player will never play the length of it distorts the valuations on an annual basis, bypassing cap limits. Any deferred payments need to be accounted for accurately.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 22, 2019 at 2:01
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    @JonCuster The CBA pretty much covers this with the Over 38 Rule - in short, this assumes the players won't play past age 38 and pushes the cap hit into any years before that, no matter how long the actual contract is.
    – Philip Kendall
    Mar 22, 2019 at 8:53
  • Fun fact: Magic Johnson signed a 25 year deal with the Lakers in 1981. I've heard it likened to a de facto ownership stake. nytimes.com/1981/06/26/sports/…
    – user16112
    Mar 22, 2019 at 11:45

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